“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” -Harper Lee
Literally just a couple minutes ago, I finished a biography of Warren Buffett called “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Book ” by Alice Schroeder. Normally I would review more about the book and content in specific but instead I’d like to focus more so on the importance of biographies and the gained perspective.
Within my constant quest for knowledge and understanding of the world, I believe there is such a huge immeasurable value weighted upon biographies and autobiographies. Whereas a lot of books weighs and expands upon a specific subject, a biography/autobiography’s focus is the life of a specific person. Instead of a single lesson, a lifetime of lessons.
Our perception of the world around us is heavily created by the experiences gathered throughout our life. There is a large amount of implied knowledge where we imply our experience from the past to that of the world around us to create an answer of what is. Well… what we would assume or make an educated guess of what is. Assumptions such as: if a man is successful, he is more likely educated. We assume perhaps a strong work ethic because we are taught in school that a strong work ethic will equate to success. If a man is working at a minimum wage job, he probably isn’t that educated. From a poor background otherwise he would change his means.
These are all stereotyping that unfortunately we are all guilty of and shouldn’t be ashamed of in a sense for it’s in the hard-wiring of our brain. However, we should be aware of the fault and strive to right our thinking from such ‘dated’ means per say. Only through a humble stance of our own personal knowledge and active exploration to dive deeper, can we escape such bigoted perceptions and clearer understanding. As the quote I listed above from Harper Lee: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
We you hear of a successful individual, we immediately will make assumptions from our own preconceived notions of success. However there are just too many variables and layers in life to take into account that we tend to oversimplify our answers.
Biographies open a clearer perspective of such individuals, complete with the common assumptions that we may be correct to an extent; to all the shortcomings and what makes the person ‘human’ as well.
Imagine being addressed with a problem and being able to ask someone that you respect how they would answer the question? Well after reading this book, I feel I have a clearer understanding of how Warren Buffet would answer a lot of questions.
From habits that he has carried since he was a child, to how he reacted both physically and emotionally to key events through his life, it really created a vivid picture of how he views the world.
One of things that stands out most to me through the course of the book was Warren’s continuous frugality (which is hard to connect with one who was at one time the richest man in the world) and also his consistent search for knowledge.
If you’re curious like how I was about how one of the greatest investors that has ever lived, approaches life, then this book is a must read.
1. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Book – Alice Schroeder